Bence Lázár Obituary

"I hope there are many good matches in front of me," said Bence Lazar following his game-winning debut in Feburary 2011. "I know that it is not possible to score two goals in every game, but it is possible to be a hassle for the defenders. I would like to avoid the ups and downs and keep myself in good shape. When the bad times come, then I want to snap out of it quickly."

Bence Lazar was 19 when he made his debut for Ujpest. Playing just behind the striker, Lazar had the type of debut every young footballer dreams of as a child: scoring two goals to overturn a deficit in the 89th minute for his boyhood club.

The following weekend Lazar scored again, a five-game drought followed, but then he scored again and again and again and again and again. The now-20 year old finished the season by scoring in five consecutive league games and a national team call-up followed in the August. Little did he know it then, but his peak had tragically already come and gone.

Throughout his teen years, Lazar was plagued with back injuries. His family weren't the most affluent, but they did what they could to find a cure, moving to the countryside and later to Austria in search of a remedy. The pain was so severe that it wasn't just affecting his mobility, but it was affecting his breathing too.

After a year out of the game, following promising trials at FC Twente and Vicenza back in 2009, Lazar found an acupuncture masseur in what he and his family thought would permanently alleviate his suffering.

But it wasn't to be. Just over a year later, the back problems returned, and Lazar would go on to play just 12 more league games across 2011 and 2012. In 2013, he returned, but never quite looked the same, and despite scoring 4 goals and registering 2 assists in 26 games (10 starts), at the end of the 2013/14 he left Ujpest for Nyiregyhaza.

The move to Nyiregyhaza never worked out. He played just five games for the club, and retired two months into the season at the age of just 23.

A year and two days after his final game for Nyiregyhaza, Lazar was given the news that he had contracted leukaemia.

The updates of his ailment were kept private, though he did give interviews to the media and appeared as a pundit during a handful of NB I games, where he always came across incredibly positive and upbeat.

In 2016 he returned to the pitch to ceremoniously kick off the game against ZTE and broke down in the centre circle, but he looked to be on the mend.

His Instagram was constantly updated during his illness. That boyish, dashing face was consistently complimented with his girlfriend's affection, and a caption full of enthusiasm.

At the beginning of 2018, the Instagram posts stopped, and on the 20th February, Ujpest sent out a message pleading for blood donors to help their former player.

Two days later, on the 22nd February, his death was announced at the age of just 26.

Bence Lazar wasn't just a fantastic footballer. He was a humble, articulate, beautiful, and inspiringly positive human being who had the whole country praying for his recovery.

A wonderful and incredibly promising life cut so tragically short.

bence lazar


All Hungarian players to have played in the English Premier League

Hungarian footballers don’t have a rich history of appearing in the English Premier League, with just ten joining the division's teams since its inception in 1992. With that in mind, here’s a look at the Hungarian players who have flown the Hungarian flag in the English top flight.


Kozma was the Hungarian trailblazer, the first of his countrymen to enter the brave new world of the English Premier League. He’d previously been a success north of the border with Scottish side Dunfermline after a move from Bordeaux in France.

It was Graeme Souness who chose to take the player to Liverpool, arguably the best club side in the country at the time. Kozma never settled at Liverpool and only appeared a handful of times. After his Anfield dream ended, he forged a good career in Cyprus, standing out in APOEL’s double-winning season.


Torghelle was a striker of whom much was expected at Crystal Palace. He was the first Hungarian in a decade to enter the Premier League and, for his impressive form on the international stage, Iain Dowie paid £750,000 to MTK Budapest for his services and awarded him the number nine shirt.

Like Kozma, Torghelle found English football difficult to adjust to. Andy Johnson started scoring regularly and Palace went for a formation that incorporated one striker, meaning Torghelle was the odd one out. When he did get a start, against Charlton in the League Cup, he scored. Unfortunately, he was also sent off for diving, which all-but ended his Palace career.


Arguably one of the best Hungarian imports ever seen in the Premier League, Király made his name at Palace after signing at the same time as Torghelle. It took him little time to break into the first team and, once he did, he became a regular. He was made famous by his insistence on wearing grey tracksuit bottoms instead of shorts and for saving a Frank Lampard penalty as Hungary slipped to a 3-1 defeat against England.

As of 2018, Király is back in Hungary playing for Szombathelyi Haladás.


Gera is, without a doubt, the most successful outfield Hungarian to feature in the Premier League. He left Ferencváros in a £1.5m deal to West Brom in 2004 and spent the next ten years playing in England.

In his first spell at West Brom, he was phenomenal, scoring within three minutes of his first start against Spurs. In all, Gera scored six league goals in his first season and was the only player at the club to appear in every league game.

He later played for Fulham, scoring twice as they beat Juventus and finding the match winner against Hamburg to send the Cottagers to their first ever European Final.


Priskin spent much of his career in England but only joined the Premier League for a solitary season with Watford in 2006/07. Also, despite being Hungarian, he was born in Komárno, Czechoslovakia.

He joined Watford after a successful trial in 2006 but scored just twice in the league as they were relegated. He went on to score 25 goals in his six seasons in England before a move to Russia. He’s now back in Hungary playing for Ferencváros.


Halmosi started his English career with Plymouth Argyle, joining as their record signing at £400,000. After one impressive season, Premier League side Hull City splashed out £2m to make him, at the time, their record signing also. Just 18 matches and three years later, he was gone, signing for Szombathelyi Haladás on a three-and-a-half-year contract.


Keeper Kurucz makes the list by virtue of a solitary game, coming on as a substitute for Robert Green at Upton Park in a 4–0 defeat to Manchester United. He kept a clean sheet for his short spell but an anterior cruciate injury later ended his West Ham career.

He signed for West Ham from Újpest who, on 20th February, were priced at 19/20 to progress in the Magyar Kupa with Betway. He ended his career in Budapest with Soroksár.


Giant keeper Fülöp had eight years in England, five of which were spent in the top flight. He enjoyed spells at no less than nine English clubs, playing regularly for Sunderland, Leicester, Ipswich and Coventry after failing to break through at Spurs.

Tragically, Fülöp passed away from cancer in 2015, on the same day his Hungarian teammates secured a 1-0 win against fancied Norway in the Euro 2016 play-off match. They went on to qualify for their first major tournament in 20 years, with all of his teammates spaying tribute to him after the match. Tamás Priskin, scorer of a goal in the second leg, dedicated it to the respected keeper.


Yet another keeper, Bogdan has had over a decade in the English game. He made his name at Bolton Wanderers but, in 2015, made a shock switch to Liverpool. He has only played twice for the Reds in the Premier League, enjoying a loan spell at Wigan Athletic in 2016. In November 2016, he suffered a tear in his ACL against Barnsley and hasn’t played since.


Last, but not least, is Ákos Buzsáky. He joined the Premier League party late, playing just one season with Queens Park Rangers. Altogether, he spent eight years in England before ending his career with Ferencváros.

So, there you have it. Who was your favourite Hungarian export?

Puskas 4-4 Hidegkuti - The Craziest Hungarian League Match Of All Time

9th January could well have been renamed The Day of Beautiful Hungarian Football in 1955 after Honvéd and MTK played out a 16-goal thriller which even left the contemporaries in awe. And seeing as this was the peak period of Hungarian football – it took a lot for them to be left in awe. Here’s the story of the craziest NB I match ever played. Written by Gergely Marosi

Not having footage is the bane of a Hungarian football lover's life. You want to see how Hungarian football was in its best periods? Take a look tactically how the great Honvéd, MTK or the Magic Magyars played? Want to witness Ferenc Puskás or Nándor Hidegkuti in their prime?

You have no luck then, as there is (almost) sod all from the period. Certainly not complete matches, but even photos are hard to come by. We have to rely on newspaper reports and contemporary accounts most of the time.

Given the above, it is not very surprising that we have no footage of perhaps the greatest and certainly maddest Hungarian league game ever, played at 11 in the morning between walls of snow on the 9th January 1955. Twenty-five thousand fans witnessed that Honvéd and Vörös Lobogó (MTK – the team temporarily lost its name and colours in the 1950s as it was first renamed to Bp. Bástya, then Bp. Vörös Lobogó – The Red Banner) went at each other at the old Üllői út ground. It’s safe to say that the two best Hungarian clubs of the 1950s – which meant they were amongst the best in the world – went all out for entertainment, as their match ended 9:7, and it’s still considered the stuff of legend.

Photo via Nemzeti Sport


If you started following Hungarian football only recently, you know that our teams do not do anything resembling football in early January. In December, a long break starts and the spring season only starts again in late February. So why the hell did Honvéd and MTK field the Üllői út pitch on such a godforsaken date, at 11 in the morning?

The answer is that they needed to, in order to complete the 1954 league season. Back then seasons stretched across the calendar year. The league kicked off in early March and it was supposed to finish by early December. 1954 was the year of the World Cup though, and Honvéd and MTK – the prominent clubs of the period – were heavily affected by the preparation for the World Cup (ending in heartbreak) and international friendlies. Both teams fielded several superstars, so it’s no coincidence they were most sought-after as friendly match partners.

Thus came that in mid-November Honvéd still had 10 league games left (out of 26!), and MTK needed to play 6. Both teams played out such a mad schedule that it can be only compared to the Christmas madness of the Premier League. Honvéd – returning from a legendary friendly against Wolverhampton Wanderers – played on 19 December, 26 December, 31 December, 5 January and 9 January, while MTK had league games on 19 December, 22 December, 26 December, 5 January, 9 January and 12 January. This was sheer madness – no wonder the squads were heavily depleted by the time the super derby came around.

Honvéd were totally knackered by December and duly lost 3 matches out of 5 in that period, but still only needed a draw against Vasas Izzó (not the same club as Vasas) to clinch the title. They did that in a minimalist fashion: Sándor Kocsis scored twice and Honvéd drew 2:2 to mathematically ensure the league gold medal.

"We did not play as well as we should have played – maybe New Year’s Eve celebrations played a part in that. Also, we knew that a draw was enough to win the title. Well – we are satisfied with that"

Jenő Kalmár, Honvéd coach

Honvéd’s title win reduced the Honvéd–MTK match a dead rubber – or, more perhaps more aptly, a glorified friendly. But no-one could imagine the fireworks the two teams had in store.

Photo via Nemzeti Sport


9th January came with heavy snow and winter reigning: the teams were getting used to playing their games in snowy conditions. They were also getting used to playing without key players – Honvéd had Gyula Grosics (and his backup goalie, Lajos Faragó), László II Budai and Zoltán Czibor out, while MTK had first-choice goalkeeper Sándor Gellér, István IV Kovács, Péter Palotás and József Zakariás on the injury list. Grosics, Budai, Czibor, Gellér, Palotás and Zakariás were all squad members of the World Cup silver-winning Hungarian team.

What was left of the teams was still formidable. Honvéd had Gyula Lóránt, József Bozsik, Sándor Kocsis, Ferenc Machos and of course Ferenc Puskás from the World Cup runner-ups, while MTK fielded Mihály Lantos, Nándor Hidegkuti, Imre Kovács and Károly Sándor from the national squad.

"We try to play an entertaining game", both coaches promised.

"A supporter who claimed that there’d be sixteen goals at this encounter, would have surely been laughed off. And very few fans thought that this game – which did not have much importance any more – would provide such a thrilling, top class football’"

Match report, Nemzeti Sport

Huge snow covered the red clay track by the field, as the two top teams ran onto the Üllői út pitch, which was more or less in okay condition. Honvéd were 1:0 up after only 3 minutes, as Lajos Tichy bundled into the net with the ball from very close range. MTK replied with three: Nándor Hidegkuti scored a free-kick after a grave goalkeeping error and Károly Sándor scored a brace, so by the 19th minute, MTK were 3:1 up. Sándor – originally a right-winger – felt that he could utilise his extreme speed and positioned himself as a centre-forward, waiting for through balls.

Honvéd got one back in the 24th minute through Sándor Kocsis. The defence seemed to be unable to cope with Károly Sándor though, and the MTK winger terrorised the Honved backline until Gyula Lóránt – the enforcer and centre-back of the Magic Magyars – plain and simply kicked the forward off the field. Lóránt got away without a sending off – all match reports claimed that he made a very ugly and deliberate  foul and should have been sent to the showers –, and MTK lost its biggest weapon.

"When Lóránt started his challenge, we could well see that he was deliberately going for Sándor’s leg. That was a cynical, brutal, unsporting foul, which left his opponent injured. Gyula Lóránt might be one of the stars of Hungarian football, but we need to ask for a punishment. This was not the first time he committed a foul like this. We don’t need players who terrorise their opponents with brutality, causing injuries"

Mihály Szegyő, Nemzeti Sport fan correspondence

Lóránt got what he wanted – MTK needed to substitute Sándor, though he was subbed off as well, as fans wanted his blood for the cynical foul –, and the opposition were reeling, having lost their best player on the pitch. Between the 32nd minute and half-time all hell broke loose, as Honvéd ran riot and scored 5 (!!!) in a row against a confused MTK, turning the match around from 2:3 to 7:3.

Ferenc Puskás, who already scored a hat-trick, followed up with a screamer early on in the second half, leaving the MTK keeper rooted to the spot. A quick goal here and there and it was already 9:4, but it was certainly not over. MTK had vastly superior fitness and went all-out attack, scoring three goals by the 81st minute. 9:7 and the crowd was siding with MTK, wishing for a miracle comeback – man of the match Hidegkuti missed a golden chance to make it 9:8 (and 5 goals for himself), and it stayed 9:7.

"The fans simply could not stop cheering the teams for their outstanding performance after the whistle."

Match report, Nemzeti Sport

honved mtk
Photo via MagyarFutball


"Was it the weakness of the backlines or the strength of the forwards?’"

Analyst, Nemzeti Sport

It was both: backlines (and especially the three-man defence lines, consisting of heavy, slow players) were tormented by the quick forwards, who played with utmost excellence. Both teams had young backup goalkeepers – this certainly did not help when facing world class strikers! The midfielders did not provide enough shielding for the defenders – their work rate going backwards was way off, according to the reports –, but on the other hand, both teams went all for entertainment and tried to outbid the other with its spectacular attacks.

"There were many goals. There were many mistakes in defending, there was a horribly ugly and unsporting foul, but all in all the fans were treated to such a thrilling, gripping and beautiful game that they probably never have witnessed before. Those who did not attend the top derby – well, they were really left out of a spectacle"

Analyst, Nemzeti Sport

Honvéd won the 1954 title with a four-point advantage over MTK (scoring 100 goals in the process), Ferencváros (then Bp. Kinizsi, forced to play in – oh, the horror – red and white) took the bronze medal. The huge divide between the Budapest teams (the Hungarian league has been traditionally highly Budapest-centric) and ‘the rest of the country’ showed, as the teams of the capital occupied 6 of the first 8 spots.

Lóránt was suspended – along with Sándor! – for his brutal foul, but both players started the 1955 league season in their usual place, the starting lineup, so effectively no action was taken. Both teams were sent for a well-deserved short break. Honvéd went on to win the league in 1955 (MTK, yet again were second, Ferencváros, yet again, were third), but the 1956 league could not be finished because of the revolution.

Hungarian football was never the same again.


Budapest, Üllői út.  Attendance: 25 000. Referee: Pósa.
Vörös Lobogó: Fecske – Kovács Jó., Börzsei, Lantos – Kovács I., Kovács F. – Sándor (Gál), Kárász, Hidegkuti, Arató, Molnár J. Coach: Bukovi
Honvéd: Sántha – Rákóczi, Lóránt (Palicskó), Kovács Já. – Bozsik, Bányai – Machos, Kocsis, Tichy, Puskás, Babolcsay. Coach: Kalmár.
Goals: Tichy (0:1, 3.), Hidegkuti (1:1, 5.), Sándor (2:1, 7.), Sándor (3:1, 19.), Kocsis (3:2, 24.), Kocsis (3:3, 32.), Puskás (3:4, 34.), Puskás (3:5, 36.), Puskás (3:6, 38.), Tichy (3:7, 44.), Puskás (3:8, 48.), Hidegkuti (4:8, 55.), Kocsis (4:9, 59.), Kárász (5:9, 71.), Hidegkuti (6:9, 75.), Hidegkuti (7:9, 81.)

stadler fc

Jozsef Stadler: The Man Who Filed A Tax Return For The Last Supper

I’m afraid I have to disappoint everyone: the title is only an urban legend. But the fact that this urban legend is alive and kicking about József Stadler, one of the most iconic Hungarian football club owners, tells you a lot of things. He grew up in a remote farm, worked as a shepherd, did all kinds of wheeling-dealing, set up his own football team, got it into the top division, had a 12 000 capacity stadium built in a settlement of 3000 inhabitants. He ended up in prison, the football club ceased to exist, the stadium is in disrepair. Stadler’s story oozes the reality of the 1990s in Hungary. Written by Gergely Marosi

“Ah, I remember when we were carrying the money by the wheelbarrow for Mr. Stadler! We had a good deal, importing stuff from Ukraine and getting it to Germany. We did not have the infrastructure though, so Mr. Stadler offered his help and his trucks. In exchange we had to help financing the stadium. He was a decent guy. And he was always correct with us in business.”

Well, that’s József Stadler in one paragraph. I’ve overheard it from a discussion at a record listening party and – as it’s usual for the stories about him – can be true or can be an urban legend. Urban legends are plentiful about Stadler. Filing a tax return for Leonardo’s The Last Supper? Teenage Andriy Shevchenko being on trial and refused at Stadler FC? Parties after games with plenty of easy women and a lot of booze? Having his own portrait painted with a blonde Ukrainian bombshell girlfriend, 30 years his junior? Throwing a party, inviting the whole village?

All of these exist. Some might be true. Some are true. The Last Supper and Shevchenko stories are unfortunately not, but it shows what kind of man József Stadler was in the public’s eyes. The iconic owner of the now-defunct Stadler FC passed away in late November at the age of 66. His story is, well, Hungary in the early 1990s in a nutshell.


József Stadler was born in 1951 in the village of Akasztó. You probably have never heard about Akasztó, and to be honest, most Hungarians would not have the faintest clue about its whereabouts had Stadler not made it into his headquarters. The village – first mentioned in 1278 as Akazthow (the name could either refer to hanging somebody or stopping carts on their tracks) – is in the middle of nowhere, so to say. Football-wise it was definitely a wasteland. Up until 1994 the county of Bács-Kiskun never gave a team to the Hungarian first division.

So, József Stadler grew up in a tanya – a typically remote farm, oft-seen on the Great Hungarian Plain –, working with the animals from the age of five.

‘At the age of five I was already running errands and doing tasks about the farm. A year later I was looking out for the horses at the nearby farm. I started earning money very early and my parents never took it from me, it was mine and I took great delight in collecting and feeling the cash. I did my eight years in primary school and I wanted to become a mason, but eventually stayed with being a shepherd. At the age of 14 I was earning as much as three adults in the village combined. I started to buy the skin of deceased sheep and sold it in nearby Solt, because I knew someone who paid good hard money for quality goods. I started wheeling and dealing with the local shepherds. I had my own sheep, collected their dung and sold it for the local vineyards. That’s how I made money out of shit’

– writes Stadler in his 5-book autobiography.

So to say, he was a born businessman with a reasonably relaxed attitude towards taxpaying and shady deals. The 1990s were a gold mine for such a businessman in Hungary. Quick-thinking and with a delicate smell of good business, Stadler funded his own Ltd. in 1988. He was doing business with anything and everyone, especially Ukraine and Russia – most businessmen shied away from those lands after the fall of the USSR. Not Stadler: he built a business empire and a fortune.

Oh, and he bought a football team.


Kiskőrös is a town of 15 000 in the county of Bács-Kiskun. Everyone knows the name because one of the most famous poets of Hungarian history, Sándor Petőfi was born there in 1823. The local football team – obviously enough – took the name of Kiskőrösi Petőfi. The team (apart from the occasional beating up of referees) peacefully played its seasons for decades in the lower divisions of Hungarian football. The club started to climb the ladder in the late 1980s and made its way to NB II, the second division. The team rose, but expenses rose as well and the club started to look around for sponsors – as Akasztó is only a few kilometres away from Kiskőrös, József Stadler was an obvious choice.

Stadler said yes to pouring his wealth in the football, and overtook the financing of the club. That meant a one-man rule, and Stadler said to everyone: it’s his way or the highway, the team needs to win the second division, otherwise he’s out. He proceeded to sit on the bench for the games (“I’ve only had a hand in the substitutions, but man, they were good!” – he claimed), renamed the club (after himself, of course – Kiskőrösi Petőfi became Kiskőrös-Stadler and later Stadler FC), and brought in some well-known players. There were doubts – the people of Kiskőrös looked at the sudden ascent with amazement, but feared that if Stadler leaves, the whole club collapses. But money was flowing freely, for the time being.

“My hobby is football. Have you looked around the pitch? Have you seen the fans? Football is loved here, and people have enough of mediocrity”

– he claimed to Nemzeti Sport in the autumn of 1993.

József Stadler wanted to build a stadium in Kiskőrös, but after a tug-of-war with the local authorities in the end he used one of his own lands in his home village of Akasztó. While the stadium construction started, the team fought for promotion and Stadler fought for his freedom – literally, as in April 1994 he was kidnapped by the Chechen mafia. He got off harm-free (apart from a hundred million forints, given to the kidnappers) and everything went on. The team kept on winning and won promotion to NB I – the first club from the county of Bács-Kiskun to do so.

“A lot of people doubted us, but I did not doubt that we can go up.  We’re going forward. We’ll have a stadium of Western European quality, we’ll have a good team. The fans at Kiskőrös will stick with us”

– Stadler said after the promotion.


The local government of Kiskőrös stopped to give any financial support for Stadler, so the club started its first ever NB I season as Stadler FC. Off the field, József Stadler started an ongoing battle with the tax authorities. Stadler threatened that if the tax authorities did not sign his tax return requests to the tune of 1 billion forints, he’ll pull the club from the football championship.

The league season for Stadler FC began with a postponed match (Videoton – which went by the name of Parmalat FC those days – were away on tour), luckily so, as everything seemed to be on the verge of a collapse. József Stadler finally announced before a cup tie with Siófok that his club will start playing NB I football. The stadium was not ready yet, so Stadler FC played 13 away games out of 15 in the autumn! The two remaining games were held in the old Kiskőrös ground.

Not very surprisingly, Stadler FC started the season with three defeats before beating Békéscsaba away – as Békéscsaba was quite a force back then, the overwhelming fan sentiment immediately pointed to a fixed match. Not only the fans were outraged: the coach of Békéscsaba, József Pásztor accused Stadler FC’s crew and players that they approached the home players with offers for match-fixing. Stadler was seeing red and refuted the claims – the whole case descended into a farce and ended almost three years later.

Stadler duly lost their next three matches – 7 games in and they had one win, two goals scored and six losses. Coach Ioan Patrascu was fired and technical director István Sándor – a man from Zakarpattia, the Ukrainian region bordering Hungary, with a Hungarian minority – took over. Sándor lost his first game, but Stadler run riot away at Nagykanizsa (5–1 win) and only lost five games from then on.

Sándor used his Ukrainian contacts wisely and signed the “U2 of Akasztó”, Igor Nichenko and Vyacheslav Yeremeyev. Nichenko was the ultimate poacher of the 1990s in Hungary: the blonde Ukrainian striker always seemed to do absolutely nothing, apart from popping up in crucial situations and converting chances out of nowhere. Yeremeyev was a playmaker with a formidable left-foot and free-kicks – the pair only came in the winter break, but played a huge part in Stadler solidifying its position in the top flight.

Stadler Stadium finally opened in March 1995 (it was the most modern stadium of Hungary then), and the team ended the season with a nine-game unbeaten run. The last match against champions Ferencváros was literally a festival – supposedly 22 000 fans (probably less in reality) crammed into the stadium at Akasztó, witnessing a 1–1 draw and a mass pitch invasion, which caused Fradi finishing the match in Stadler’s away kit, as their fans decided to celebrate on the field early, stripping the players naked in the process.

The blue and white dream continued well into next season: Stadler FC, playing in their very distinctive blue and white chequered kit, were never threatened with relegation and repeated their 9th place finish from the season before, even though they lost Igor Nichenko to Ferencváros in the winter break. They even had a hand in deciding the championship: their 3–1 home win against BVSC essentially dented the title-winning hopes of the Budapest Railwaymen, who ceded the fight against Ferencváros a round later in front of 42 000 fans. Stadler finished the season with three losses but in safety.


That was as high Stadler FC could get. The next season was abysmal: the weakened team started with a six-match winless streak and won only 2 games all autumn. Spring was slightly better, but still, Stadler needed to go to the relegation playoff against Dunaferr – they won 4–3 in aggregate and the village of Akasztó could enjoy some rooster stew as a celebration, courtesy of József Stadler. The club owner wept pitchside in relief as the referee ended the match (Stadler FC needed to survive two shots hitting the underside of the bar and off the goal line in the last minute) and proceeded to celebrate, casually popping up a 5-litre champagne bottle. Judged by the contemporary reports it’s safe to say that the whole local community woke up with a major hangover the next day…

Summer brought upheaval, as it looked like the curious Békéscsaba–Stadler match (played three years ago) came back to haunt the Akasztó team. The first verdict saw the match-fixing proven and relegated Stadler FC to the second division – when the draw for the NB I was made, Stadler was replaced by the “Team X” moniker. József Stadler appealed and MLSZ decided that the team could stay in the top flight, because even though there was a match-fixing attempt, the one who made it was not contracted to Stadler FC at the time.

Stadler survived, but the damage was done – the team could not sufficiently strengthen its squad, as the match-fixing case caused uncertainity, and rumours about the owner getting into major trouble with the tax authorities were rife.

The next season was horrible from start to finish: Stadler FC scraped together only one win and 11 goals in the autumn and only won three more games in the spring season. József Stadler was arrested in April for tax evasion and illegal financial activities (mostly cheating with tax return requests).

“If I committed so many crimes, I do not wish to live a minute longer. Let’s re-instate death penalty, put me in the stadium, kill me there, so I can have a proper burial. My conscience is clean. I’m fighting to the last shot. The team will finish the season of course”

– Stadler said to Nemzeti Sport after the public prosecutor’s decision. He was found guilty and sentenced for 9 years in prison and seizure of all assets.

The team played its last match in the NB I on 6 June 1998: mice were eating through the cables in the stadium, the stands were almost empty and Stadler won 3–2 against Haladás, despite being 0–2 down early in the game. The turnaround was ignited by the worst penalty decision ever (0:57 in the video below and you won’t believe it), but the home team could leave the Hungarian flight with their heads held high.

They were never seen playing a match again.


Stadler said no to NB II football, so Stadler FC ceased to exist. NB I minnows Gázszer FC (they also ceased to exist in December 1999, selling their NB I right halfway through the season to Pécs, which is probably the most bizarre move ever in Hungarian football history) used the stadium in the 1998–1999 season, and Dunaferr played two matches there in the spring of 2002, while their own ground was being rebuilt.

József Stadler was in and out of prison in his later life, always searching for a big business, but always finding trouble with the tax authorities. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, wrote the story of his life (he maintained his innocence in all tax cases) and suffered a stroke in a signing session. The stadium, once the most modern one in Hungary, eventually fell into disrepair.

“If I built my stadium now, probably I’d get honours from the state”

– Stadler remarked dryly in an interview given a few months before his death.

He was not only a shrewd (and shady) businessman, but something like a folk hero of the 1990s Hungary, who was seen as an entertaining and clever self-made men fighting against the corrupt authorities. He remains in the memory of local fans as the millionaire who spent his money on a vanity project in his own village – and Stadler FC ended up as a fun tale in the Hungarian football legend book.


IGOR NICHENKO (striker): The blonde, baby-faced angel of death of the Hungarian football pitches. Igor Nichenko knew only one thing: scoring. He was a classic poacher, coming out of nowhere, sniffing out every mistake and opportunity. He wasted no thoughts of any other aspect of the game. He won the Hungarian league with Ferencváros (1996) and Dunaferr (2000) and was top goalscorer of the NB I in 1995–1996 (Stadler/Ferencváros). He’s the second most prolific foreign player ever in Hungarian top flight football with 98 goals – only Nemanja Nikolics is in front of him (118 up until his naturalisation).

VYACHESLAV YEREMEYEV (attacking midfielder): Goatee or strong stubble, shoulder-length brown hair, formidable left foot – Vyacheslav Yeremeyev was a classic number ten and Nichenko’s best partner in crime. While Nichenko left for Ferencváros, Yeremeyev stayed, became the captain of Stadler FC and continued to play in Hungary until the early 2000s, amassing 167 top flight matches and 23 goals.

ATTILA DRAGÓNER (central defender): Probably the most well-known player ever to wear Stadler FC’s jersey, Attila Dragóner spent only a season in blue and white. That was an excellent one: Dragóner pushed into the squad of the Hungarian Olympic team in Atlanta and made his senior national team debut in August 1996, as a player of Stadler. He went on to play in BVSC and Ferencváros (with stints in Germany and Portugal), and retired as a club icon for Fradi.

NORBERT NAGY (left midfielder/left-back): Stadler FC picked him up from almost complete obscurity and a year later he debuted in the Hungarian national team – the first player from the club to do so. As Nichenko, he signed for Ferencváros and won two championships with them. He passed away at the age of 33 in 2003, suffering a fatal car crash.

ISTVÁN SÁNDOR (manager): The Ukrainian-Hungarian coach was doing an excellent job at Stadler FC, saving the team from relegation in his first season and only leaving when pretty much all was lost. He sat on the bench of Stadler in 102 league games. Sándor – the father of footballers György Sándor and István Sándor Jr. – sometimes made near-wonders with his limited funds. His shrewd scouting of Ukraine provided Stadler of several high-calibre players. He was present with Igor Nichenko at József Stadler’s burial ceremony.


1994–95               9th           30 matches         9 wins   10 draws              11 losses              37 points
1995–96               9th           30 matches         8 wins   12 draws              10 losses              36 points
1996–97               16th         34 matches         7 wins   7 draws                20 losses              28 points
1997–98               18th         34 matches         4 wins   10 draws              20 losses              22 points

Most NB I matches played for the club: János Kertész (110)
Most NB I goals scored for the club: Igor Nichenko (16)


The Top 5 Players of the NBI 2017/18 Autumn Season

In the first of a series of articles, Tomasz Mortimer looks at the most interesting statistics of the Autumn season. This week we look at the top 5 players according to InStat

Marquinhos Pedroso -  Ferencvaros - Left Back - 270 points

Signed from Figueirense in late summer, Pedroso, who was at Gaziantepspor in the Turkish Super League last season, has been quite superb since moving to Ferencvaros. Excellent going forward with great ball control and pinpoint crossing, Pedroso is equally adept in defence averaging 4 tackles and 6 interceptions a game.

The departure of Cristian Ramirez to Krasnodar in January was a blow for Fradi, but Pedroso has filled that void with aplomb. At just 24, Pedroso is only on loan from Figueirense but Fradi will be doing all they can to secure his signature on a permanent basis, and they do a have a first-buy option on the deal.

Asmir Suljic - Videoton - Attacking Midfielder  - 263 points

Suljic has been pretty much as good as anything in NB I for four seasons now with his low centre of gravity and his mesmeric ability to bob and weave his way past onrushing defenders. This season Suljic has been at his mesmeric best with the 26-year-old averaging 7 successful dribbles and 3.5 key passes a game. Goals have been lacking this season as he only has 1, but those 8 assists more than make up for that.

Signed by Videoton in the 2015 summer transfer window from Ujpest, Suljic, who is Bosnian born but has Hungarian citizenship, must be close to a call up for the Hungarian national team.

Fernando Gorriaran - Ferencvaros - Centre Midfielder - 263 points

An incredible find by the Ferencvaros scouting team, Gorriaran was playing for River Plate in Uruguay last season and was signed out of the blue by Fradi back in July. Ever since arriving, the 23-year-old Uruguayan has looked a cut above the rest with his tidy technique and all action style.

Excellent defensively but also intelligent in the final third, Gorriaran has a little bit of everything averaging 5 tackles, 4.3 interceptions, 46 passes (85% accuracy), 0.95 key passes a game plus 1 goal and 3 assists (all in the last five games of the autumn season). It'll be interesting to see how long this lad stays in Hungary.

Jozsef Windecker - Ujpest - Centre Midfielder - 262 points

The only Hungarian born player on the list, Windecker has gone under the radar this season but has been remarkably consistent in a very inconsistent Ujpest side. Windecker is averaging 5 tackles, 7 interceptions, 50 passes (80% accuracy), 0.6 key passes a game and has 2 goals and 1 assist.

Windecker, 25, has never been capped by Hungary, but has been a regular in NB I since 2012 for Siofok, Paks and Gyor before moving to Ujpest in 2015.

Danko Lazovic - Videoton - Attacking Midfielder - 260 points

Not everyone's cup of tea, Lazovic is notorious for his playacting in NB I, but his ability on the pitch can't be questioned. Now 34, Lazovic spent his younger years at some of Europe's best clubs including Bayer Leverkusen, Zenit and PSV, and his class shines above most of his peers now in Hungary.

Lazovic has 10 goals and 5 assists in the league this season (and unsurprisingly 1 red card), and is averaging an incredible 6 key passes per game on top of that. This old flame is still burning very strongly right now.